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Rift Valley
Rift Valley
Rift Valley
Rift Valley

The Rift Valley is famous for its stunning birdlife.

The best flamingo viewing these days is at Lake Bogoria.

Freshwater Lake Baringo, in the northern Rift, is a peaceful spot.

The best-known Rift Valley national park is Lake Nakuru, which protects white and black rhino.

Rift Valley

Rift Valley

Africa’s Great Rift Valley displays some of its most dramatic landscapes where its eastern arm carves through Kenya.

The Rift Valley floor encompasses the archetypal east African safari panorama of acacia-dotted savannah, studded with jewel-like lakes that are sometimes rimmed with huge flocks of pink flamingos. Together, lakes Nakuru, Elmenteita and Bogoria form the UNESCO natural heritage site known as the Kenya Lake System in the Great Rift Valley.

The walls of the Rift Valley rise in steep and dramatic steps. On the western side, they rise to the highlands of Western Kenya, on whose high-altitude plateaux some of Kenya’s top athletic careers have been forged. Climbing the eastern wall, the Rift Valley rises to the Aberdare range and the knuckle-like folds of the Ngong Hills, on the fringes of Nairobi.

Traditionally, safaris in the Rift Valley have focused on just a couple of key lakes and small national parks. Expert Africa, however, with decades of experience researching The Rough Guide to Kenya, is delighted to be able to offer a wider-ranging set of options to create rewarding itineraries throughout this region.

Much of the Rift Valley has been quite heavily settled, and the wildlife here is not as prolific and species-diverse as it is further southwest in the Maasai Mara, or northeast in Laikipia or Samburu. It is therefore worth preparing for a Rift Valley safari itinerary to be as much about landscapes and exploring Kenya’s cultural diversity as it is about the Big Five. Nevertheless, Rift Valley safaris offer excellent bird-watching and a string of interesting discoveries to be made by travellers prepared to do some sometimes bumpy and dusty drives.

Rift Valley

Rift Valley: in detail

Expert Africa's suggested itineraries in Kenya

Browse these 23 sample itineraries for inspration. They're just examples of what we can do, so contact us at Expert Africa to start the ball rolling.


Map

Black Kite Fly-in Safari

10 days • 4 locations • 1 country
NAIROBI AIRPORT TO NAIROBI AIRPORT

Explore Kenya in-depth with visits to Nairobi and Meru National Parks, the Mara Conservancies and Amboseli. Nestled in remoter regions, four camps provide fantastic access to rich game, a range of activities and beautifully diverse landscapes.

Visiting Nairobi, Mara Conservancies and 2 other areas

US$8,380 - US$9,630 per person

Read more about the Black Kite Fly-in Safari

Map

Gabar Goshawk Fly-in Safari

10 days • 4 locations • 1 country
NAIROBI AIRPORT TO NAIROBI AIRPORT

Experience Amboseli, the Maasai Mara ecosystem and Laikipia during this economically priced safari. Two simple camps offer adventure before a stopover in Nairobi and a final stay in the charming, wildlife-rich Il Ngwesi Eco-Lodge.

Visiting Laikipia, Nairobi and 2 other areas

US$4,790 - US$4,790 per person

Read more about the Gabar Goshawk Fly-in Safari

Map

De Brazza Monkey Fly-in Safari

9 days • 3 locations • 1 country
NAIROBI AIRPORT TO NAIROBI AIRPORT

Enjoy a range of activities in the remote wilderness of northern Kenya before exploring the wildlife-rich plains of the Mara ecosystem. Private vehicles and guides heighten the personalisation of this highly immersive safari.

Visiting Northern Kenya, Mara Conservancies and 1 other area

US$9,700 - US$11,350 per person

Read more about the De Brazza Monkey Fly-in Safari

Map

Hamerkop Fly-In Safari

8 days • 2 locations • 1 country
NAIROBI AIRPORT TO NAIROBI AIRPORT

Different wildlife, contrasting camps and a whole host of activities, this is a safari for those wanting to get out and about and not just sit in a vehicle.

Visiting Laikipia, Mara Conservancies

US$5,500 - US$8,280 per person

Read more about the Hamerkop Fly-In Safari

Map

Rothschild Giraffe Safari

8 days • 3 locations • 1 country
NAIROBI AIRPORT TO NAIROBI AIRPORT

A luxury Kenyan safari, starting at the iconic Giraffe Manor before fabulous stays on the spectacular Solio Reserve and Sala’s Camp in a remote corner of the Maasai Mara.

Visiting Nairobi, Maasai Mara and 1 other area

US$9,200 - US$12,650 per person

Read more about the Rothschild Giraffe Safari

Map

Golden Jackal Fly-in Safari

8 days • 2 locations • 1 country
NAIROBI AIRPORT TO NAIROBI AIRPORT

A contrasting safari of a lodge and a tented camp, action-packed activities in Laikipia and wildlife-filled game drives in the Maasai Mara, yet overall a consistently high quality experience.

Visiting Laikipia, Maasai Mara

US$8,050 - US$10,300 per person

Read more about the Golden Jackal Fly-in Safari

Map

Big Cat Fly-in Safari

8 days • 2 locations • 1 country
NAIROBI AIRPORT TO NAIROBI AIRPORT

Combining two of Kenya’s best wildlife viewing areas, this slow-paced safari to the Lewa Conservancy and Maasai Mara guarantees iconic wildlife. The long established, well-rated camps are great value too.

Visiting Maasai Mara, Laikipia

US$5,060 - US$7,460 per person

Read more about the Big Cat Fly-in Safari

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Lanner Falcon Fly-In Safari

8 days • 3 locations • 1 country
NAIROBI AIRPORT TO NAIROBI AIRPORT

Three sister camps offer access to wonderfully remote regions across northern Kenya and the Maasai Mara ecosystem. Enjoy an exclusive safari experience with a range of activities that include great wildlife, superb guiding and considerable comfort.

Visiting Samburu, Mara Conservancies and 1 other area

US$6,170 - US$8,220 per person

Read more about the Lanner Falcon Fly-In Safari

Map

African Finfoot Fly-in Safari

7 days • 3 locations • 1 country
NAIROBI AIRPORT TO NAIROBI AIRPORT

A unique start to the safari in Nairobi National Park, then classic, luxurious camps combine for a high end and exclusive safari in fantastic wildlife destinations.

Visiting Nairobi, Laikipia and 1 other area

US$8,180 - US$12,640 per person

Read more about the African Finfoot Fly-in Safari

Map

African Hawk-Eagle Fly-in Safari

7 days • 2 locations • 1 country
NAIROBI AIRPORT TO NAIROBI AIRPORT

Two luxurious camps provide quieter game-viewing within Laikipia and the Mara ecosystem. Situated on private conservancies, Lewa Wilderness and Naboisho offer the chance to sight all of the ‘big 5’ and enjoy a range of safari activities.

Visiting Laikipia, Mara Conservancies

US$6,440 - US$10,070 per person

Read more about the African Hawk-Eagle Fly-in Safari

Inspire me

Need inspiration?

Let our trip chooser narrow down the options for you

Inspire me

Our travellers’ wildlife sightings in Rift Valley

This is their success for sightings in Rift Valley.
Click on a species for more detail. How we work this out.


Giraffe

100% success

Hippo

100% success

Eland

100% success

Buffalo

50% success

Spotted Hyena

50% success

Zebra

50% success

Cheetah

0% success

Striped Hyena

0% success

Leopard

0% success

Lion

0% success

Black Rhino

0% success

White Rhino

0% success

Wild dog

0% success

Wildebeest

0% success

Pangolin

0% success

Aardvark

0% success

Map of Rift Valley

Choices for where to stay in Rift Valley


Reference map

Most recent reviews of our safaris to Rift Valley

Click below to browse all 6 reviews from Rift Valley.
All from our travellers; all are in full & unedited.


100%
6 reviews since August 2007
Excellent
6
Good
0
Average
0
Poor
0
Terrible
0
Steve H from Leeds

Arrived 27 Jan 2020, 22 nights

"My January 2020 safari"

"Fantastic service consistently provided by Expert Africa over many years. …" Read Steve H’s full holiday review

Overall rating: Excellent

Mr D. from Penrith

Arrived 27 Jan 2020, 22 nights

"Safari trip"

"Excellent. Great experience. My first visit after 48 years! …" Read Mr D.’s full holiday review

Overall rating: Excellent

P&JG from Scotland

Arrived 2 Aug 2019, 22 nights

"A wonderful trip"

"A wonderful trip...Richard Trillo was enormously helpful and flexible. …" Read P&JG’s full holiday review

Overall rating: Excellent

Mr N & Ms S from Zambia

Arrived 23 Dec 2018, 12 nights

"Back to basics"

"All highly enjoyable...a reminder of many of the things which make Kenya special …" Read Mr N & Ms S’s full holiday review

Overall rating: Excellent

Mr & Mrs L from Hinckley

Arrived 6 Dec 2017, 12 nights

"Kenya 2017"

"Another extremely enjoyable visit to Kenya. …" Read Mr & Mrs L’s full holiday review

Overall rating: Excellent

Steve H from Leeds

Arrived 8 Mar 2016, 14 nights

"My Mar 2016 trip"

"Smooth and efficient...yet another brilliant safari experience - the best yet! …" Read Steve H’s full holiday review

Overall rating: Excellent

See all Rift Valley reviews

When to go to Rift Valley

Our month by month guide: What it's like to visit Rift Valley in Kenya


Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Kenya in January

Clear, hot days and warm nights make this high season a popular time for safaris and it’s also good for diving and snorkelling as water clarity is excellent and gets better as the dry season progresses. Most lodges and tented camps treat January after the New Year week is over, as mid-season, making it a good compromise in terms of value for money with reasonably reliable, dry weather and some greenery left in the landscape. Expert Africa bases its description of climate and weather in January, like the other months of the year, on the climate records of roughly the last 100 years, and it's fair to say that the weather and seasons since the beginning of this century have been highly irregular and unpredictable.

  • On average, January is the second driest month of the year
  • Elephants dig waterholes in the dry riverbed in the Samburu reserve.
  • Wildebeest and many antelope have their calving season, to February.
  • Migrant birds are seen in huge numbers, especially in the Rift Valley.
  • Sea water clarity around the coral reefs generally good.

Our view

A very good time to visit

Weather in January

Kenya in February

With the long dry season well established, the grass grazed down and wildlife gathering close to water points, this is still a good time for a safari. Good water clarity in the Indian Ocean's coastal waters makes for excellent diving and snorkelling conditions. Expert Africa bases its description of climate and weather in February, like the other months of the year, on the climate records of roughly the last 100 years, and it's fair to say that the weather and seasons since the beginning of this century have been highly irregular and unpredictable.

  • On average, February is the driest month of the year.
  • It’s sometimes possible to swim with whale sharks at Diani Beach.
  • Migrant birds are still seen everywhere, especially near water.
  • This is usually peak calving season for wildebeest and many antelopes.
  • This month is often the hottest of the year, especially on the coast.

Our view

A very good time to visit

Weather in February

Kenya in March

Hot, increasingly humid weather – with good diving and snorkelling conditions at the start of the month – gives way to rains and lower accommodation costs. Expert Africa bases its description of climate and weather in March, like the other months of the year, on the climate records of roughly the last 100 years, and predicting the seasons since the beginning of this century has been difficult. March is the month when – traditionally – intensely hot conditions build up until a cloudburst finally happens at the end of the month or in early April, to relieve the humidity. As ever, regional variations across the country can greatly impact on visitors' experiences.

  • Sea-water clarity is best for diving before the long rains start.
  • Visitor numbers are low, though the Easter holidays can be busier.
  • Night skies can be scintillatingly clear in early March.
  • Cropped down savannah grasses can make it easier to see the wildlife.
  • Temperartures climb high, especially at lower elevations.

Our view

A good time to visit, with pros & cons

Weather in March

Kenya in April

April sees the full onset of the southeast monsoon wind or kusi, which heralds the long rains. Temperatures drop soon after the rains are established and you’ll often have facilities largely to yourself in this more affordable low season, sometimes known as the "green season". The bush quickly springs to life, with greenery sprouting almost before your eyes. While you're likely to get a fair number of heavy showers, the breaks in the rain can yield sparklingly clear conditions. With the dust settled and bright sun piercing the clouds, conditions can be sublime for photography, especially first thing in the morning or in the late afternoon with another storm brewing. You may be lucky, or you may find conditions very wet and muddy.

  • A wet month, the coast often gets more than 300mm (12in) of rain.
  • Sunny spells can provide great light for photography.
  • Buffalo and zebra calving season often happens in this month.
  • Baby crocodiles hatch, for example on Central Island in Lake Turkana.
  • Palearctic migrant birds gather to fly north to breeding grounds.

Our view

A time to avoid if possible

Weather in April

Kenya in May

While game viewing can be trickier as vegetation runs riot, between the cloudbursts the colours and light are great for photography at this time of year. Expert Africa bases its description of climate and weather in May, like the other months of the year, on the climate records of roughly the last 100 years, and while it's reasonable to expect heavy rains in many parts during this month, especially on the coast, the rains don't always come evenly or in some areas come at all. In an El Niño year, the so-called long rains that normally are established across much of the country by May can be meagre, to the despair of farmers. On the other hand in a La Niña year, the long rains can bring floods. On the coast, the monsoon winds make the climate much more predictable, with heavy rains common from throughout this month.

  • Frogs breed in the ponds in the Arabuko Sokoke Forest near Watamu.
  • Wildebeest, impala and other grazers are in rut (the breeding season).
  • Kilimanjaro looks its best as heavy rain falls as snow on the summit.
  • There's a sharp peek of rainfall on the coast with many rainy days.
  • Accommodation prices are uniformly low, while some camps close.

Our view

A time to avoid if possible

Weather in May

Kenya in June

The rains give way to cloudy, cooler weather, often making for comfortable conditions by the end of the month, especially in the highlands. Starting from mid-June or the beginning of July and running until the end of October, this is the high season, and accordingly has higher accommodation rates and – at least until early September – higher numbers of visitors. While the early part of June can often be rainy on the coast, it can be a great time to go on safari, with fresh greenery, many young animals and good photographic conditions with clear air.

  • The Taru Desert, inland from the coast, is carpeted with flowers.
  • The Lake Turkana Cultural Festival is held in Loiyangalani.
  • Madaraka Day (commemorating self rule) is 1 June.
  • The annual Lewa marathon runs a course through the wildlife.
  • The Diani Rules "sports" event rips up the rulebook at Diani Beach.

Our view

A good time to visit, with pros & cons

Weather in June

Kenya in July

Kenya’s “winter" season sets in (winter is a misnomer but locals feel the change), and the highlands can be rather grey. Skies are often cloudy and the days can be surprisingly cool, with an average daytime high in many highland safari areas of 15-20°C and night-time temperatures dropping below 10°C in Nairobi and the highlands. Lower parts of the country and the coast are usually warm and dry, typically reaching highs of around 25°C with lows in the high teens. As this is the start of the high season, coinciding with the usual arrival of the wildebeest migration in the Maasai Mara, July is a busy month. Ask your Expert Africa specialist to advise on how to avoid the crowds, which is not that difficult to do.

  • The wildebeest migration usually reaches the Maasai Mara in July.
  • Simbi Lake (Kisumu) and Crater Lake (Naivasha) can attract flamingoes.
  • Watersports start to pick up and some surfing is possible at Malindi.
  • Afternoon thunderstorms are a common feature in the Maasai Mara.
  • The sea can be choppy along the coast, making diving difficult.

Our view

A good time to visit, with pros & cons

Weather in July

Kenya in August

The Great Migration fills the plains of the Maasai Mara, and school’s out, so the park roads are full of tourists – ask your Expert Africa specialist for advice on crowd avoidance tactics. Choose a private conservancy rather than a public national park or national reseve for quieter conditions. Like July, August is generally mild and relatively dry in the safari areas, but it can be very chilly in the highlands, even in the middle of the day, and hail occasionally falls above altitudes of around 2,400m (8,000ft). Nairobi can be disappointingly overcast, with low cloud.

  • Apart from Christmas holidays, this is the busiest month of the year.
  • Late August sees peak wildebeest drama at the Mara River crossings.
  • Coastal winds are good for kite- and wind-surfing.
  • Few mosquitoes are around at this generally dry time of year.
  • The annual Camel Derby takes place in the Samburu capital, Maralal.

Our view

A good time to visit, with pros & cons

Weather in August

Kenya in September

The skies clearing of cloud signals the start of hot, dry weather with little chance of rain – and, after the first few days of the month, far fewer visitors – making the latter part of September a good time for a quieter safari. While early September is often good for dramatic migration crossings along the Mara River, you might consider deliberately postponing your trip until later in the month, when the migration can still be very impressive and visitor numbers fewer. If tourist surges are somewhat predictable, however, the patterns of the wildebeest migration are more volatile, and like all of Expert Africa's climate and weather assessments, they are based on accumulated years of experience rather than guaranteed certainty.

  • This is still high season, with prices to match.
  • Many river crossings take place on the Mara river in both directions.
  • Natural bush fires flush out insects and small animals for predators.
  • The Rift Valley Music Festival takes place by Lake Naivasha.
  • With school holidays over by early September, late-month is quieter.

Our view

A very good time to visit

Weather in September

Kenya in October

Still hot, mostly dry and not too busy, this is many people’s preferred month for a safari, and it’s also good for diving and snorkelling. The wildebeest and zebra herds of the great migration are often still to be seen, though in dwindling numbers. The swamps of Amboseli attract thirsty wildlife including large herds of elephants. While we wouldn't expect much rain across most of the country this month, the climate has become so unpredictable that you can never say never, and the possibiity of the short rains – usually associated with November to mid-December, starting early, can't be discounted.

  • This month sees the tail end of the great migration in the Mara.
  • Palearctic migrant birds start to arrive, staying until March.
  • Turtle nests hatch at Watamu, until November.
  • Amboseli elephants focus on the swamps for their daily water.
  • The Indian Ocean monsoon winds turn from southeast to northeast.

Our view

A very good time to visit

Weather in October

Kenya in November

The northeast monsoon wind or kaskazi heralds the start of the “short rains", usually some time in the second half of the month. From November to mid-December, this is the low season, and accordingly has lower accommodation rates and lower visitor numbers. Across most of the country you can expect warm, somewhat cloudy weather, with occasional heavy showers and localised flooding. Expert Africa bases its description of the climate in November, like the other months of the year, on the records of roughly the last 100 years, and it's fair to say that the seasons since the beginning of this century have been highly irregular and unpredictable: some years the short rains don't come at all, or don't reach every part of the country. In an El Niño year, the November short rains can be very heavy, but in a La Niña year, they can fail completely.

  • Swimming with dolphins in Lamu can be done from now until April.
  • Birders gather at Ngulia in Tsavo West to ring Palearctic migrants.
  • The Lamu Cultural Festival takes over the town and Lamu Creek.
  • Agricultural shows often take place regional market towns.
  • This is low season, so camps can be great value, with special offers.

Our view

A good time to visit, with pros & cons

Weather in November

Kenya in December

In a typical December, the rains usually finish by middle of the month, leaving the landscape looking its best, under clear blue skies, and heralding the start of the second peak tourist season from around 20 December to the first week of January. Our assessment of the likely weather in December, like the other months of the year, is based on climate records, and it's fair to say that the seasons since the beginning of this century have been highly irregular and unpredictable. Christmas can sometimes be wet, but most years the rains have finished a week or two earlier, with the festive season ushering in the perfect combination of clear skies and sunshine by day and starry nights.

  • Christmas and New Year are busy, with the lodges and camps full.
  • Rates are highest after 24 Dec, with supplements on public holidays.
  • Republic Day and Independence day are celebrated on 12 December.
  • Good kite- and wind-surfing restarts, with strong northeasterly winds.
  • Mango season begins, providing excitement for primates and elephants.

Our view

A good time to visit, with pros & cons

Weather in December

Kenya fact file

Useful information and advice to help you prepare for a trip including Rift Valley.


Excursions in Rift Valley

Optional extra day-drips and excursions possible whilst your staying within Rift Valley. Talk to us: these are usually best arranged before you go.


Lake Bogoria National Reserve

Lake Bogoria National Reserve

Half or full day

Seeing the Rift Valley's iconic pink flocks of flamingos massing on one of the region's lakes can be a somewhat hit-and-miss affair since lake water levels rose after about 2014 and the ecology of several of them changed significantly. Lake Bogoria, however, in the northern Rift, still usually retains some large flocks of many thousands of lesser flamingos.

More about Lake Bogoria visit
Lake Nakuru Safari

Lake Nakuru Safari

Half or full day

Drive into one of Kenya's best-known national parks to explore the lakeshore, woodlands, cliffs and plains around this iconic lake. While the flamingos may no longer be here, Nakuru has some key mammals, including both black and southern white rhinos, lions, leopards and Rothschild giraffes.

More about Lake Nakuru Safari

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